Get our latest essays, archival selections, reading lists, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
The head is seized with a dizziness while reading
devotional literature in this queer light; a fifth-
hand account of a thousand gray stars prearranged
to shine so-so over the wonders of modern cities
like fables lacking blood spilled judiciously across
a forest floor and the moral lesson we look for
won’t materialize at the business park while gazing
on the pond’s moonlit surface. Kindness conjured
will never kill anything enough. All the microscopic
hours spent viewing your face proved abstract
and the “world” “out there” a landscape observed
with a rarified air until it splintered off in rain.
In this queer light, no voyage expresses itself literally
anymore, a descriptive sentence regarding riding
Mongolian horses on dusty terrain cues civilization,
which is one way of saying the march of events,
another the bell tower tolls a directive. You hear the bells?
Of course you hear the bells. Flipping forward
thirty pages in the primer, past three chapters
detailing the new wilderness, symbolic discharges,
sundials chopping day into shadows and the text
specifies ending in departure, death, or slightly
more ambiguous topics to spin off into stories from
a nearer future where guards announce the dawn
and others echo this call until all gates are opened.
A comprehensive discussion is out of place here.
We can’t assess the damages with defective instruments.
Stay indoors, the world out there is a chronic sedative,
a time clock set in motion with coins deposited by
a person. Please don’t disagree with me, a person
does something “of his own accord” or without self-
control, designs change even conditions we haven’t
actually experienced. Wait another day in this queer light,
in this fragmentary present state in lieu of a whole
no longer in vogue, and time keeps on ticking will
keep on ticking on a watch decreased in resale value.
The hurt continuing to hurt is a descriptive sentence
for how we might view the foot traffic on the street
in this queer light occupying a head with some shame
willing to incite harm in summer months or recession.
Allow the passage of time, delay soliloquies, return
to thinking precisely about thinking too precisely.
You feel the way you do, that’s fine. Skies clear, azure
patterns are composed and you continue walking
toward what you knew all along you weren’t going to reach.
Brett Fletcher Lauer is the author of the memoir Fake Missed Connections: Divorce, Online Dating, and Other Failures (Soft Skull, 2016) and A Hotel in Belgium (Four Way Books, 2014). He is the deputy director of the Poetry Society of America and the poetry editor of A Public Space.
Vital reading on politics, literature, and more in your inbox. Sign up for our Weekly Newsletter, Monthly Roundup, and event notifications.
But I do miss the hymns, / the small, hard apples with their dimpled skin. I do miss / things.
The vast hinterlands of the Global South’s cities are generating new solidarities and ideas of what counts as a life worth living.
Protests in China are shining a light not only on the country’s draconian population management but restrictions on workers everywhere.